Long Ron fic with a bit of Harry and Hermione thrown in too. Ron strives to gain his independence after the war and joins the Ministry, but a new threat emerges. Please review and thanks for reading :)
The sun was peeking above the trees of the Forbidden Forest. Ron watched from his bed as the sun streamed through the window and the light crept further and further up the opposite wall. It rose above the trees and bathed the destroyed grounds in sunlight as the sky turned from a pale greyish lilac to a lighter blue. It was ironic that the most beautiful sunrise he had seen in the past year was over the most ugly scene. The grass was smeared with blood and scattered with debris. He could see fallen trees and huge chunks of wall and brick. The ground was scorched and grass burnt yet it was all bathed in golden sunlight. He was en tuned to the breathing of Harry and he could hear his deep breaths behind him. He could also hear Neville's soft snuffling and finally the rumbling chests of Seamus and Dean at the opposite side of the room, but he missed Hermione's soft rhythmic breathing as she was asleep in the girl's dormitory. To his right Harry was fast asleep. He had slept all day and was still in a deep sleep. His face was still grimy and his clothes were blood stained and tattered. The quilt had been pulled over him but he had kicked it aside during his terror filled dreams, yet he still didn't wake. Ron was jealous of him. He hadn't been that lucky and couldn't fall into the depths of sleep. It was still half dark outside but Ron had lost track of time. Most of the people in Hogwarts were asleep except for maybe the few, like Ron who were kept awake by their runaway thoughts, or the House elves as they started on breakfast in the depths below the castle.
The five beds in the dormitory were filled for the first time in months. Ron felt comfort in the fact that Harry's and his own bed were kept in case of their return. Ron rolled over in his own bed. He couldn't remember when he had last lay in one so comfortable. Weeks of staying alert and awake had over run his exhaustion and he knew he was in no mind to sleep. His brain would not slow, his senses would not dull and he wouldn't be able to shut it all out. Neville's breathing suddenly changed and Ron saw the silhouette of Neville as he sat up at the other side of the room. He was rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hand as he looked bleary eyed around.
"Hi." Neville muttered, his voice still thick with sleep. Ron saw him roll over and let out a sigh. "Go to sleep Ron. You deserve it."
Ron smirked at his friend's back but got of bed anyway. The carpet was cool and soft between his toes as he pulled on a pair of pyjama bottoms that Hermione had found in her beaded bag. He smiled at her thoughtfulness and trudged out of the dormitory. The stairs were dark still but there was light coming from the tall windows. And as he passed them Ron could see the destroyed grounds below the tower that made his stomach twist and turn.
The other dormitory doors were closed but as Ron reached the common room he could hear the sounds of people sleeping. Ron turned the corner and found the scene in front of him strangely funny. There was about thirty people sprawled across magically elongated chairs and along the sofas, red and gold blankets over them. It looked to Ron like the end of a Gryffindor Quidditch party when everyone had had too much to drink and had passed out. Ron was aware that some of the classrooms had been made into bedrooms but he didn't expect this many to want to sleep in the Gryffindor common room. Ron caught an eyeful of red hair in the corner and he saw George curled up on the sofa beside the fire, Lee Jordan was asleep at the other end. Ron felt a pang of sorrow plummet through his body. George reminded him unsurprisingly so much of Fred, who was now dead. The irony on how that rhymed wasn't lost on Ron. Bill and Fleur were intertwined on a chair beside George and Lee. He couldn't see anymore of his family. Ron moved his way through the slumbering people and reached the portrait hole. He swung it open and he climbed through. The Fat Lady shuffled in her sleep but didn't fully wake, her friend Violet hardly moved at the Fat Lady's feet. Ron watched as it swung shut before he walked slowly towards the hall for breakfast. He arrived there without even realising it, his feet carrying him automatically. The Entrance Hall was wrecked, pieces of armour lay in pieces on slabs of cracked marble and chunks of stone scattered across the floor, the jewels from the House hourglasses glistened amongst the shards of glass and the splintered wood. It had all been pushed and swept to the side but not completely cleaned up. There was hardly anyone at breakfast, it was too early for many of the people still left in Hogwarts. Ron walked towards the Gryffindor table and was dimly aware that the few people in the hall watched as he walked past them, he supposed that going barefoot and in pyjamas wasn't the best idea to slip into the crowd. Ron slid onto a bench and pulled a stack of toast towards him. He wasn't hungry but he wanted to do something with his hands. He was picking apart the crusts of the forth pieces of bread when Hermione appeared beside him. She smiled softly at him as she sat down on the bench.
"Morning." She croaked and continued to stare at him. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine." Ron answered, his voice was low and Hermione had to lean in to hear him. As she leant in Ron could smell the sharp scent of soap and shampoo, she had showered and smelt great. Ron felt his head incline towards her on its own. Hermione let a small soft smile settle on her lips at his action.
"Fine?" Hermione asked suspiciously. "I'm not fine, and I haven't lost..."
Hermione trailed off and Ron looked back at his toast closely. He could smell her, feel the heat off of her body and hear her breathe. Suddenly he felt her hand close around his knuckles and he let the toast drop onto the plate again. They sat in silence for a moment before Hermione edged her way to him again. Her leg touched his and its warmth made its way through the threadbare flannel that covered his leg. Her fingers slipped through his butter smeared ones.
"Have you slept?" She asked, her breath tickling his neck. Ron shook his head no. He could feel his throat constrict and he wasn't sure if he could speak if he tried. "You haven't slept in ages. You should at least get an hour or two before everyone goes home."
"I can't." Ron choked. He was right, his voice wasn't working right. Hermione sighed through her nose and the air hit his chin. Ron looked around at her, she was blurring around the edges in his tired state. Hermione smiled at him softly and pulled him gently away from the table. She smiled at his attire and half pulled him away from Gryffindor table, and steered them both towards the Gryffindor common room. Ron followed her on auto pilot letting her hand lead him, just following her soapy clean smell as they walked through the destruction and debris. There was more people milling about the corridors, trying to fix portraits and place armour in the correct place. Hermione's grip on Ron's hand didn't waver until they had passed through the common room and arrived in the dormitory. Everyone was still there sleeping. Hermione paused, her hand still intertwined with Ron's. Ron was too tired to stop himself from collapsing onto his bed. Hermione frowned from where she was standing, right next to the bed. Ron groaned and pulled her onto the covers.
"Just stay." He whispered and let her kick off her shoes, and rearrange herself beside him. "Thanks." He mumbled into her hair as she pushed his hair away from his eyes. "Thanks for everything."
Hermione smiled sadly at him and watched him slowly fall asleep.